C. Riley Snorton
Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Cornell University
"Fleshy Encounters: Black Feminisms and the Mutability of Gender"
This talk traces how flesh figures one route into the proverbial question of how matter matters. Juxtaposing the archives of J. Marion Sims, lionized as the father of American gynecology, with the cross-gender maneuvers of fugitive actors in 19th century slave narratives, Snorton frames how transness became conceivable, as a kind of being in the world in which gender though biologized was not fixed but fungible, which is to say, revisable within blackness, as a condition of possibility. Flesh then becomes a crucial analytic for understanding “gender” as a racial arrangement related to shifting, complex and even contradictory understandings of ontology, ethnology and sovereignty in sexology and antebellum U.S. law.
C. Riley Snorton is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University. He earned his PhD in Communication and Culture, with graduate certificates in Africana Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. He is a recipient of a predoctoral fellowship at the W.E.B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University (2009), a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Pomona College (2010), and a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (2015). Snorton's research and teaching expertise include cultural theory, queer and transgender theory and history, Africana studies, performance studies, and popular culture. He has published articles in the Black Scholar, the International Journal of Communication, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, and Culture, and Society.
Snorton's first book, Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), traces the emergence and circulation of the down low in news and popular culture. His second book, Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) identifies multiple intersections between blackness and transness from the mid-nineteenth century to present-day anti-black and anti-trans legislation and violence. Drawing on a deep and varied archive of materials, Snorton attends to how slavery and the production of racialized gender provided the foundations for an understanding of gender as mutable.
Part of the LGBTQ Speaker Series. Co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, with support from the Office of the Provost.